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Angelic Runes - Makoto Tateno

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Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics / Author: Makoto Tateno / Paperback / 200 Pages / Book is published 2009-08-05 by Digital Manga Publishing

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      18.08.2010 16:24
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      Decent start , but needs more work

      The people in a fairly small and isolated village have had more than their share of bad luck, and they just know two young twins must be somehow responsible. After all, their mother died giving birth to them, and all they ever say is creepy nonsense. Confronted about the troubles, they admit they are responsible and that the only way to top it is to bury them alive. The villagers have the eight year old children in the grave, ready to begin shovelling the earth over, when a mysterious stranger appears. Aghast at what he is witnessing, he halts the proceedings. It readily becomes apparent that he is no ordinary person passing by, but a user of magic. And he too, comes to quickly realise that these are no ordinary children. For one speaks the words of an angel, and the other passes the messages of a demon. For what reason is this so, and what does this have to do with the quest for his own father? Machinations beyond human ken are afoot, with these three at the centre of the storm. Are they mere pawns in a game between heaven and hell, or is is something more at work?

      I have to admit to rather liking the works of Makoto Tateno, and while her art work here is as superb as ever and her plot idea intriguing, this title still fell rather flat. The twins, Allueh and Erudite not only have rather odd names even for a high fantasy title, but seem to be made of cardboard. Admittedly, their reticence and not saying anything but the utterances of their angel or demon is probably meant to make them seem mysterious, but the lack of any text showing their own private inner thoughts just leaves them completely two dimensional, mere props for what appears to be the main character, the young traveller Sowil. Introduction of further characters tends to be abrupt, as if Tateno is in a hurry to introduce new plot threads and twists. The volume ends without resolving any major questions, merely meandering over a side adventure that gives a hint to the past of the man Sowil seeks.

      I felt very frustrated at this, having previously enjoyed Tateno's storytelling prowess in volumes such as Yellow and How to Capture a Martini. Tateno's usual skills sets the bar quite high in expectations, but if I take a step back and re-evaluate it as if it was from a nameless mangaka and from the viewpoint of the target audience (16+), I can see that my disappointment in the perceived shortcomings is perhaps a little harsh. It is perhaps pedestrian compared to her other series, but it IS just getting off the ground, and her angel/demon oracle children are a unique combination. The premise is interesting enough that I will concede that a mere 168 pages is not enough space to thoroughly set the scenario in place as the threads that re appearing seem tangled indeed, and so I shall wait and see with piqued interest how Sowil's quest shapes up. It's shoujo aimed at teens, so despite it being Tateno I guarantee it won't be a less smutty version of Yamane's Crimson Spell, but hey, a fujoshi can't have everything. It does have more depth than the marshmallow loveliness of her Happy Boys, but we'll just have to wait and see if the series tastes as sweet.

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